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The Winter Tree: Earth Below

Seasoned prog from Andrew Laitres’ accomplished outfit.

American musician Andrew Laitres has been growing The Winter Tree since since 2010.

His previous band Magus were fond of the long-form tune, but Earth Below is a more concise affair. Opener Plank may mislead, as its jaunty, Supertramp-evoking vibe isn’t completely representative of the whole album. The slightly gentler quality here is surely due in part to the presence of ex-Änglagård drummer and percussionist Mattias Olsson, along with White Willow’s Jacob Holm-Lupo handling production duties (and occasional keyboard part). Both the title track and The Light both build to a full band workout, but are ultimately soft, acoustic guitar-based tunes vaguely reminiscent of the Moody Blues and Trepass-era Genesis, while album closer A Thousand Futures retains the dreaminess with piano, flute and some lovely vocal harmonies. Electric piano underpins The World Upon Her Shoulders, a snapshot of a woman in danger of losing herself, and The Garden Of Love sets a doleful William Blake poem to music with a short and sweet guitar solo thrown in. With pleasing multi-part vocals at almost every turn, this nice collection puts melody and songcraft at the forefront.